On Vitalism

I guess I should quickly explain that I think that “vitalism” is often doing a lot more rhetorical work than conceptual work (this is not about Tim Morton, whom I just discussed, but about other vitalisms). In my interview with her, Jane Bennett pointed out well that she’s as much interested in the inorganic as the organic, and I think a fair reading of her book would easily pick that up. But in some strains of ecological thought, vitalism becomes a boundless supposition that glues it all together, a dubious and mysterious element that really means “it does things on its own.” I think Bennett’s tact is better: show, like Mario Perniola before her, the appeal (Perniola talks about “sex appeal” but that’s another conversation) of the inorganic and in particular the inorganic entities that we are.